Fredrik Ljungström

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Fredrik Ljungström
Fredrik Ljungström.png
Born (1875-06-16)16 June 1875
Stockholm, Sweden
Died 18 February 1964(1964-02-18) (aged 88)
Lidingö, Sweden
Nationality  Sweden
Education Östra Real
Alma mater Royal Institute of Technology
Occupation Engineer
Technical designer
The Ljungström Non-condensing Turbine Locomotive by Ljungström Steam Turbine Co. (Swedish: Aktiebolaget Ljungströms Ångturbin) (1931).

Fredrik Ljungström (16 June 1875 in Stockholm – 18 February 1964 in Stockholm) was a Swedish engineer, technical designer, and industrialist.

Considered one of the foremost inventors of Sweden,[1][2] he accounted for hundreds of innovative technical patents alone, and in collaboration with his brother Birger Ljungström (1872–1948): from early bicycling free wheeling hubs techniques and mechanical automatic transmissions for vehicles, to historical steam turbines, innovative air preheaters, and circular arc hulls for sailing boats. He co-founded companies such as Ljungström Steam Turbine Co. and Swedish Turbine Manufacturing Co., apart from associations with other industrialists including Gustaf de Laval, Alfred Nobel, and John D. Rockefeller. As innovative as his ideas were in function, they also often turned out in terms of unconventional external design, such as his Ljungström steam turbine locomotives and Ljungström sailboats.

During the resource scarcity of World War II, Fredrik Ljungström's innovative technology for oil shale underground gasification by electrical energy provided a significant strategical impact for the Royal Swedish Navy and Air Force.[3] In addition, Ljungström contributed to the first Swedish jet engine.

With Fredrik Ljungström's technology of the air preheater implemented in a vast amount of modern power stations around the world until this day with total attributed worldwide fuel savings estimated to 4,960,000,000 tons of oil, "few inventions have been as successful in saving fuel as the Ljungström Air Preheater". In 1995, the Ljungström Air Preheater was distinguished as the 44th International Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.[4] His works are represented in the Swedish National Museum of Science and Technology, the Nordic Museum, and the Swedish Railway Museum, among others.

Early life and background[edit]

Fredrik Ljungström was born in 1875 in Östermalm, Stockholm to cartographer Jonas Patrik Ljungström and Amalia Bernhardina (née Falck). Fredrik and his siblings were influenced by a family background of merchants, artisans and innovators. His father, who owned a precision instruments[disambiguation needed] manufactory, patented several technical innovations, as did his grandfather, the jeweler Johan Patrik Ljungström. His 2nd great grandfather was the Protestant reformer Peter Spaak, his 3rd great uncle Bishop Johan Wingård, and his 4th great grandfather early industrialist Abraham Hülphers the Older.

Educated at Östra Real, he attended the Royal Institute of Technology, from where he was subsequently awarded an Honorary Doctorate in 1944.

Fredrik Ljungström was married twice: first to Elizabeth (née Westerberg), from whom he was widowed, and secondly to Signe (née Söderberg).

He died in 1964, buried at Norra begravningsplatsen, Stockholm.

Svea Velocipede[edit]

Svea Velocipede exhibited at the Swedish National Museum of Science and Technology.

The Svea Velocipede was an early invention by Fredrik Ljungström in collaboration with his brothers Birger Ljungström, and Oscar Ljungström. An early example in the history of the bicycle, the pedals mechanism of the Svea Velocipede was straight vertical, driven by free wheeling hubs, which was patented by the brothers in 1892.

In connection with Alfred Nobel, the project was further developed and the product sold in a few thousands of units in Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Although the general preference for circular pedal mechanisms became clear with time, later bicycle models on the market would adopt its foot-operated bicycle brakes while also employing its free wheeling hubs.

The Svea Velocipede has units represented at the Swedish National Museum of Science and Technology, and the Nordic Museum in Stockholm, Sweden.

Steam turbines[edit]

The turbine rotor for Ljungström steam turbine 50 MW electric generator (circa 1932).

After the Svea Velocipede project, Fredrik and Birger went on to work out automatic milking devices with Gustaf Laval at Laval AB Separator.

Soon enough, however, the brothers ventured into a new enterprise on steam turbines. This project was based on a new type of steam turbine, the Ljungström radial turbine, invented by the brothers and patented by Birger Ljungström in 1894. The turbine principle was the base for the company ALÅ (Ljungström steam turbine Co.), founded in 1908, that owned all the patents. In 1913 together they founded the separate company STAL (Swedish turbine manufacturing Co.), while the workshop was moved from Stockholm to a factory Finspång, Östergötland. Mechanical engineer Karl Gustaf Karlson, later Professor at Chalmers University of Technology, was connected to the development. This company handled the manufacturing and sales of complete steam turbine driven electric generators. The turbine provided a 10% higher thermodynamic efficiency than previously constructions, in addition to being more compact, requiring less space. STAL:s solutions prooved successful, and with contracts such as with Siemens and General Electric, its activites expanded into Europe and beyond.

STAL was acquired by ASEA in 1916 as they wished to market complete packages with turbine driven electric generators. The brothers then left the company but kept control over the all the patents and manufacturing licenses for the Ljungström steam turbines within the company ALÅ.

The technical solutions developed by the brothers at STAL remain employed over the world with significant present-day fuel savings results.

Steam turbine locomotives[edit]

Ljungström steam turbine locomotive (1921), adopted as Swedish Railways Turbine Locomotive Littera Å (1922).
Ljungström steam turbine locomotive at Stockholm Central Station (1922).

The brothers also designed a number of steam turbine locomotives, some of which were highly successful. A factory was set up in Gåshaga, Lidingö, Stockholm, in 1918, where the Ljungström brothers also worked out the Ljungström heat exchanger for their locomotives.

The first attempt in 1921 was a rather odd-looking machine. Its three driving axles were located under the tender, and the cab and boiler sat on unpowered wheels. Later they changed this design with driving wheels on both the boiler carriage and the tender with separate turbines. The second design was a 2-8-0 similar to a successful freight design. The Ljungström locomotives also attracted attention in England. Beyer, Peacock and Company had license construction of a copy of the Swedish Railways turbine locomotive SJ Littera Å, employed in London, Midland and Scottish Railway.[5][6] Yet another was built for Argentina, designated for the 800 kms long distance between Tucumán and Santa Fe, largely through desert with limited access to water, needs to which the Ljungström system was especially fitted. The locomotive remained in service until its disappearance during the Argentine Revolution.

In 1930, the 2000th unit, a "Ljungström locomotove", was rolled out of the factory of Nydqvist & Holm AB: TGOJ M3 47, M3t 71.[7] Subsequently built in 1930 and 1936 by Nydqvist & Holm, these locomotives replaced conventional ones on the Grängesberg-Oxelösund Railway. No condenser was fitted, as its complexity outweighed its thermodynamic advantages. The wheels were driven by a jackshaft. These engines were not retired until the 1950s when the line was electrified.

Three engines of this type were built, all three of which have been preserved. Two (71 and 73) are owned by the Railway Museum of Grängesberg, and the third (72) by the Swedish Railway Museum. The one in Grängesberg is the world's only remaining steam turbine locomotive in function, Ljungström M3t nr 71, manufactored in 1930 by Nydqvist & Holm AB and renovated by the Locomotove Museum to the 125th anniversary of the Swedish Railways in June 1981.[8] With a power of 22 tons, it is still Sweden's most powerful steam locomotive. Practical tests showed that it was able to transport 2,000 tons in 17 per mille elevation. [9]

Air preheaters[edit]

Ljungström regenerative heat exchanger (circa 1930).

Fredrik Lindström also invented an efficient air preheater, which even in a modern utility boiler provides up to 20 percent of the total heat transfer in the boiler process, but only represents 2 percent of the investment.[10] This innovation was also a result of the factory in Lidingö, with patent achieved in 1930.[11]

The factory and workshop activities and laboratories in Lidingö would remain throughout the 1920s, with some 70 personnel for the technical purposes. In the 1930s it was used a film studio, and was finally demolished in the 1970s to give space for new industry premises.

Sailing boats[edit]

Ljungström sailboat, 1950. USPTO No. 2107303, February 8, 1938.
Fredrik Ljungström, the yacht designer, wearing a mariner cap from the Lysekil Yacht Club, onboard Vingen XII ("the Wing" XII) (1951).

Fredrik Ljungström made several inventions out of new ideas related to sailing boats. The Ljungström sailboat with the circular arc hull and the Ljungström rig, without a boom and double sail that can work as a spinnaker, is named after Fredrik Ljungström.[12] The history of the productions are represented at the Maritime Museum in Stockholm.[13] He also experimented with a vibrationless yacht motor.

Other ventures[edit]

The transmission techonology Spontan, developed by Fredrik Ljungström in the 1920s, attracted attention on the Swedish market, and several private cars were equipped with the system with positive results. Chrysler in the United States got involved, but shortly afterwards had to retreat due to the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression.

Fredrik Ljungström also invented a technology for oil shale underground gasification by electrical energy, the Ljungström method, whereafter the Ljungström fields are named in Stockholm.[14] In addition, Ljungström made important contributions to the first Swedish jet motor.

His works are represented in the Swedish National Museum of Science and Technology, the Nordic Museum, the Swedish Railway Museum, the Maritime Museum, the Nobel Museum, and the Lidingö Museum, among others.

Image gallery[edit]


The Rotor Medal, an eponymic tribute to Fredrik Ljungström founded in 1957 by Swedish Rotor Machines, designed by Swedish sculptor Leo Holmberg. On one side Fredrik Ljungström presented in profile, on the other side Prometheus and Aura; Greek mythological figures of forethought and air.







Further reading[edit]

  • Fredrik Ljungström 1875-1964 Uppfinnare och inspiratör (1999) by Olle Ljungström, Sveriges Mekanisters Riksförening, ISBN 91-630-7639-X
  • Birger and Fredrik Ljungström - inventors (1955) by Sven A. Hansson (1907-1996)
  • När uppfinnarna var tidens hjältar (1994), Populär historia, Lund (1991), Börje Isakson, ISSN 1102-0822; 1994:5, s. 48-51

External links[edit]